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When God does not heal

When God does not heal

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When God does not heal

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  1. When God does not heal Dr. med. Samuel Pfeifer Presentation ACC Strassbourg March 2011

  2. Desire for healing ICU Lepra in Thailand John Wimber Esoteric Healing

  3. Expulsion from Paradise • pains in childbearing - with painful labor you will give birth to children. • Cursed is the ground - through painful toil you will eat food from it - It will produce thorns and thistles • By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food • you will return to the ground - for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

  4. CAUSE ? Biblical Contrasts?

  5. Overview • Extreme I: Healing is possible – only believe! • Extreme II: No more miracles today • Spiritualization of health problems • «parachute explanations» • Effects on our patients • Weakness as strength • «Posttraumatic Growth»

  6. Extreme 1: Healing is possible! • Kenneth Hagin (1917 – 2003) – «Word of faith» movement • Teaches that non-Christian person has the «nature of Satan». Conversion leads to the «nature of God». • As Jesus in his time healed those who believed, he heals today. «He carried our infirmity» = promise of healing. • „Name it and claim it!“ Heilungsprediger Charles Ndifon

  7. Medicine - „Tools of Bondage“ • «As people are healed, they realize they no longer need their tools of bondage, for Jesus healed ALL manner of sickness and disease so we can be free.» • (Text on the Homepage of Charles Ndifon.

  8. Is he right who heals?

  9. Feeling better without long term effect • The faith healer can't lose. Any treatment he or she gives is likely to get a high approval rating. There will be no follow-up, so there will be few bothersome failures. The healer is likely to be showered with proclamations of gratitude. It is no wonder, then, that the healer comes to believe that his or her method, whether it be invoking God or the life force or some other mysterious entity, truly works. Even obvious failures can be blamed on the patient for not having enough faith in God or for not cooperating fully. Also, many patients are afraid to admit they're not better because that would imply that they lack faith or didn't participate properly. ( • «Great Expectations Fall Flat.» Closer examination of miracles shows no long-term effect. • >Journal „Contending Earnestly for The Faith“

  10. Healer or Physician – different roles Healer Physician: Nachhaltigkeit Linderung Stabilisierung Rückfallprophylaxe Trost im Leiden »MIRACLE« Condition over years Healers perform and travel on Physicians and local counsellors observe a person over years.

  11. Overview • Extrem I: Gesundheit ist machbar – glaube nur! • Extreme II: There are no miracles • Spiritualisierung psychischer Probleme • «Fallschirmerklärungen» • Auswirkungen auf unsere Patienten • Schwachheit als Stärke • «Posttraumatic Growth»

  12. Extreme 2: There are no miracles • Supernatural Healing is rather the exception than the rule. And most of the time there are other explanatons than supernatural influence of the spirit. This has led not only sceptical scientists but also theologians to a complete rejection of all miraculous healings. • Juri Gagarin, Sowjet-Cosmonaut: „There is no God. I have not seen him!“

  13. Spontaneous Healing • Spontaneous remission means an unexpected improvement or cure from a disease which usually is taking a different course. Both terms are mainly used for unexpected transient or final improvements in cancer. • Very rare but well documented

  14. What is a miracle? • DEFINITION: an unexpected event attributed to divine intervention. Sometimes an event is also attributed (in part) to a miracle worker, saint, or religious leader. A miracle is sometimes thought of as a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature. Theologians say that, with divine providence, God regularly works through created nature yet is free to work without, above, or against it as well. • QUESTION: Is it only then God’s work, when a person is back to his full health, energy and happiness? Is a miracle really characterized by a complete disappearance of illness and crisis? • MIRACLE OR SPONTANEAOUS REMISSION? God’s miracles happen every day in a wide variety between the extremes of all and nothing.

  15. Overview • Extrem I: Gesundheit ist machbar – glaube nur! • Extrem II: Wunder gibt es nicht mehr • Spiritualization of emotional problems • «Fallschirmerklärungen» • Auswirkungen auf unsere Patienten • Schwachheit als Stärke • «Posttraumatic Growth»

  16. Spiritualization - Definition • Events and experiences are interpreted in a uniquely spiritual way. This relates to CAUSES and CHANGES (therapy) of problems. Subjektive experience is embedded in a spiritual context.

  17. Spiritualization of health problems • The question of WHY • WHY is somebody ill ? (Joh. 9:2) • The question of POWER • Out of which empowerment can somebody heal? • The question of OBSTACLES to healing • Why is somebody NOT healed?

  18. Demonization • „Demons“ are diagnosed by „conversations“ with „demons“. • Examples: „Demon“ of Depression, Anorexia, Homosexuality, Murder, Epilepsy, Diabetes (!!!) • Widely used in evangelical groups. • Ein „Hexenhammer“ der evangelikalen Neuzeit

  19. Occult Causality Emotional state Old life New life in Christ

  20. Modern Teaching vs. Biblical Teaching • In no reference, Jesus constructs a causality of «demonic» affliction. Demons are described (in the popular tradition) as causes of illness without indivdual guilt – The concept of demons in the New Testament has no theological significance! • „Demons“ can cause both behavioral problems and physical disorders. • In some cases a «demonic» person is healed by a prayer of Christ (but there is no expulsion / exorcism). • In no instance in the New Testament letters is the solution of problems in the recommendation of a «deliverance ministry». • «Ancestral guilt»: In the old testament a few references are supplemented with the following comments on the guilt of ancestors: • Stronger than the curse ios God’s blessing. • Don’t blame the parents for your own wrongdoings!(Hesekiel 18,2-3; Jer. 31,29)

  21. Demonization = Spiritual Abuse • Spiritual abuse occurs when a person in religious authority or a person with a unique spiritual practice misleads and maltreats another person in the name of God or church or in the mystery of any spiritual concept. • “It was not unusual for someone to be told that they had a demon of witchcraft or freemasonry from some unknown family source even if that person had no knowledge of these things taking place. With demons and soul ties to contend with it is no surprise that I spent most of my Christian existence living in fear.” • (a counselee who was raped)

  22. Case vignette – The suffering of patients • A young woman had an epileptic seizure followed by various fears • «On the one hand this situation has brought me much closer to God - on the other hand I feel so far away from him! • I am reading the Bible, and I keep praying! But my fear is killing me! During the day I have the impression of being watched • Then a «brother in Christ» claimed that epilepsy was always caused by a demon. • I did not believe him, as I am a child of God! If Jesus lives in me through the Holy spirit, no demon has room in me. Moreover, two years ago, I had a deliverance ministry performed on me, renouncing all occult bondage. I trust the Bible which says: So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8,36) • And still I dread another seizure! • How can I overcome this fear? How can I be closer to God? How can I be his servant despite all my weakness? How can I receive his love, no longer suffering from my loneliness?»

  23. Overview • Extrem I: Gesundheit ist machbar – glaube nur! • Extrem II: Wunder gibt es nicht mehr • Spiritualisierung psychischer Probleme • «Parachute explanations» • Auswirkungen auf unsere Patienten • Schwachheit als Stärke • «Posttraumatic Growth»

  24. Parachute explanations • The healer has to have explanations if his promises are not coming true. • What is hindering god to work in your life? • Is there hidden sin? • Do you have enough faith? • Consumers’ view: • „Does the healer have the anointment?“ – • „Which powers / spirits are giving him the healing powers?“ • SURPRISING: These issues are found not only in Christian healing movements but also in esoteric and shamanistic folk healing.

  25. Stigmatization – The consequences • „If the system of demonization and exorcism does not function, the person is described as oppositional, unbelieving, in need of spiritual chastisement, and has to be excluded from the fellowship. The Stigma of Demonization remains.“ • (from a report on a house church in Switzerland).

  26. Are all being healed? A learning process Are all being healed in our movement? • Unfortunately not! In the gospels and the acts we are reading that many were healed through the power of God – but not all. • We witness God‘s healing in broken hearts and afflicted bodies through a protracted process and in some cases though spontaneous healing. • We have to confess that our prayers and deeds are incomplete , the healing process not being visible. • (Website “Schule für Heilung”, Switzerland)

  27. Overview • Extrem I: Gesundheit ist machbar – glaube nur! • Extrem II: Wunder gibt es nicht mehr • Spiritualisierung psychischer Probleme • «Fallschirmerklärungen» • Power in weakness • «Posttraumatic Growth»

  28. Weakness as a central concept • 2. Korinther 12:9 – “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” • 2. Korinther 4:7-11 – But we have this treasure in jars of clay • Hebräer 4:15 – Jesus „who is able to empathize with our weaknesses … who has been tempted in every way, just as we are“, „ since he himself is subject to weakness“ (Heb 5:2)

  29. Post-traumatic Growth This new term has developed from research on coping mechanisms of children and adolescents with trauma and loss, which identified several behaviors and thought patterns not necessarily present prior to exposure. Experiences that are associated with posttraumatic growth include • Feeling more compassion and empathy for others after trauma or loss • Increased psychological and emotional maturity when compared to age-related peers • Increased resiliency, the ability to “bounce back” • A more complex appreciation of life when compared to age related peers • A deeper understanding of one’s personal values, purpose, and meaning in life • A greater value of interpersonal relationships • DeeperspiritualityandrelationwithGod • Deepenedunderstandingoflifeandsufferingthroughfaith. Romans 5:3-5 Source: Calhoun L. & Tedeschi, R.(2006). - Park C.L. & Fenster J.R. (2004).

  30. Conclusions • The desire for healing is part of our human existence. • Jesus always emphasized that more important than physical healing is a healing of the person as a whole. His healing ministry is to be seen on this background. • Modern healing ministries are in the danger of instrumentalizing «healing» for their own ends without really caring about the long-term well-being of their patients. • The hope for healing can be merciless, when it puts people into a constant state of tension expecting healing that will never occur, constantly searching in a self-deprecating rumination for obstacles in their lives, without ever attaining healing.

  31. Strategien im Umgang mit Leiden A) Barmherzigkeit und Mitgefühl als wesentliches Anliegen von Jesus bedeutet, das Leiden medizinisch und psychologisch zu lindern – im Rahmen des Möglichen und im Bewusstsein unserer Grenzen. B) Leben mit Schwachheit ist wertvoller als äussere Stärke. C) Aus dem äusserlichen Zerbrechen kann neue seelische Kraft erwachsen.

  32. Strategies in dealing with suffering A) The attitude of Jesus – mercy and empathy as central emotions – means to relieve and improve suffering (both physical and emotional) – within the framework of reality and the admission of our limitations. B) Living with weakness is more valuable than external strength. C) Out of brokenness new strength can grow.

  33. A prayer in suffering «I ask you neither for health nor for sickness, for life nor for death; but that you may dispose of my health and my sickness, my life and my death, for your glory...You alone know what is expedient for me; you are the sovereign master; do with me according to your will. Give to me, or take away from me, only conform my will to yours. I know but one thing, Lord, that it is good to follow you, and bad to offend you. Apart from that, I know not what is good or bad in anything. I know not which is most profitable to me, health or sickness, wealth or poverty, nor anything else in the world. That discernment is beyond the power of men or angels, and is hidden among the secrets of your Providence, which I adore, but do not seek to fathom." » (Blaise Pascal)

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